Summary: How correctable are you? Does God have permission to speak to your heart? What if what He says to you today requires you to humble yourself? Link inc. to formatted text, audio & video, PowerPoint.
An Up Front Word on Backsliding
The word backslider has a negative ring to it. Most people cringe or tighten when they hear the word, just like we do when we hear the names “Judas” or “Jezebel” or when the word “hypocrite” is mentioned.
So it is with the term "backslider". It’s like bad breath--most people won’t tell you if you have it...and if you are told, you won’t admit it [like snoring]!
Solomon advises that, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways (Prov. 14:14). In other words, it’s not often that we are open enough to consider that we ourselves may be backslidden.
Pastors backslide, and their wives really do! [ha!] Seriously, teachers, leaders, students, and followers, we all are susceptible. Let’s take a survey. Who has backslidden since they have been saved? How about now? If not now, you will backslide at some point, and we need to heed the Bible’s instructions on how to do business w/ backsliding!
Let’s prepare our hearts. How transparent can we be before the Lord? How correctable are you? Does God have permission to speak to your heart? What if what He says to you today requires you to humble yourself?
It is important that we realize that a backslider is one who has lost fellowship, not salvation. The joy may depart from us, but not the Spirit.
When King David sinned so grievously and finally came to himself, he prayed, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation" (Ps. 51:12). He did not pray for his salvation to return, but his joy.
The prodigal son was still a son even when away from his father, and was restored to the fellowship of the home upon his return. By the way, how did he backslide in the first place? By desiring to be with the wrong kind of people. We become like those we spend time with!
A parrot got loose and flew into the corn field with the crows. When the farmer began to shoot crows, the parrot was wounded. While picking up dead crows, he saw the wounded parrot and picked it up. The parrot began to speak, "Bad company! Bad company!"
When a person lies down with dogs, he’s likely to get up with fleas!
Peter’s bad company and distance from the Lord’s presence soon resulted in cursing and swearing. Finally, he left the Lord to go back to his fishing business. How sad, because it influenced several others to do the same! Thank God there’s hope for backsliders to come back to the Lord and be restored!
I. IDENTIFYING SIGNS OF BACKSLIDING
Dr. H. A. Ironside said, "If you were ever closer to the Lord than
you are right now, you’re backslidden."
There are several identifying signs that reveal a backslidden condition.
1. Loss of heavenly values. When the excitement of Bible truth about the things of God grows weak, worldly pleasures get a grip and claim our interest and time. The Bible gets dull, prayer is commonplace, church attendance does not have a pull, and living is hard.
2. Loss of conviction of sin. The darkness in a restaurant is not so bad as our eyes adjust to it. The closer to sin we get, the less we see wrong with it.
3. Lazy in service. Initiative and aggressive action is the theme of the Bible Christian. A tombstone in an old graveyard stated "Here rests John Brown. That is all he ever did."
Here lies a man who did no good,
Had many chances, but never he would.
Where he’s gone and how he fares,
Nobody knows--and nobody cares.
4. Putting people’s word ahead of God’s Word. Some are persuaded more by the opinion and advice of others than the plain, clear teaching of the Bible. They have a problem called the backslidden condition.
5. Loss of testimony. We are to let our light shine. Man’s Christian character is like a tree, and his testimony is its shadow. It all depends upon his relationship to the Son.
II. INSIGHT INTO THE CAUSES OF BACKSLIDING.
Sin for the Christian falls into two categories: sins of omission and sins of commission. One leads to the other. When we think of sin we usually think about sins we can commit...doing something we should not do. But sins of omission...not doing what we should do, are very real and just as dangerous. Most of the causes of backsliding are sins of omission: such as not making a faithful commitment to church attendance, to Bible reading, to prayer, giving, serving, etc.
Let’s highlight one of these:
Prayerlessness. Dr. Leonard Ravenhill said, "If we are not praying, we’re playing." A spiritual, victorious person will delight to talk to God in prayer and will do it at every possible opportunity. As one preacher said, "I love to preach, and I’ll preach at the drop of a hat. If necessary, I’ll drop the hat." It should be that way with us when it comes to praying. As a church we appear to be on the verge of some great things. I’m usually the cheerleader, but right now I’m more afraid of what may happen if we don’t bring it all to God and recognize that He is our only Source of success! We need some prayer partners who will put a premium on praying away the fiery darts of the devil and making supplication together for the windows of heaven to open and pour us out blessings and manna and fruit from above!